Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,

A Verlaine Songbook

Back in the LP days, if a singer wanted to show some sophistication, s/he sometimes put out an album of songs by famous composers set to the poems of one poet: for example, Phyllis Curtin’s much-admired 1964 disc of Debussy and Fauré songs to poems by Verlaine, with pianist Ryan Edwards (available now as a CD from VAI).

Giovanni Simone Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Matthias Goerne: Bach Cantatas for Bass

In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death.  Goerne adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker bass register.

Gramophone Award Winner — Matthias Goerne Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge

Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category - Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach - Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.

Véronique Gens: Visions from Grand Opéra

Ravishing : Visions, Véronique Gens in a glorious new recording of French operatic gems, with Hervé Niquet conducting the Münchener Rundfunkorchester. This disc is a companion piece to Néère, where Gens sang familiar Duparc, Hahn, and Chausson mélodies.

John Joubert's Jane Eyre

Librettists have long mined the literature shelves for narratives that are ripe for musico-dramatic embodiment. On the whole, it’s the short stories and poems - The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin or Death in Venice, for example - that best lend themselves to operatic adaptation.

Through Life and Love: Louise Alder sings Strauss

Soprano Louise Alder has had an eventful few months. Declared ‘Young Singer of the Year’ at the 2017 International Opera Awards in May, the following month she won the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

A Master Baritone in Recital: Sesto Bruscantini, 1981

This is the only disc ever devoted to the art of Sesto Bruscantini (1919–2003). Record collectors value his performance of major baritone roles, especially comic but also serious ones, on many complete opera recordings, such as Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Victoria de los Angeles). He continued to perform at major houses until at least 1985 and even recorded Mozart's Don Alfonso in 1991, when he was 72.

Emalie Savoy: A Portrait

Since 1952, the ARD—the organization of German radio stations—has run an annual competition for young musicians. Winners have included Jessye Norman, Maurice André, Heinz Holliger, and Mitsuko Uchida. Starting in 2015, the CD firm GENUIN has offered, as a separate award, the chance for one of the prize winners to make a CD that can serve as a kind of calling card to the larger musical and music-loving world. In 2016, the second such CD award was given to the Aris Quartett (second-prize winner in the “string quartet” category).

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Detlev Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch should be a huge hit. Just as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana appeals to audiences who don't listen to early music (or even to much classical music), Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch has all the elements for instant popular success.

A Falstaff Opera in Shakespeare’s Words: Sir John in Love

Only one Shakespeare play has resulted in three operas that get performed today (whether internationally or primarily in one language-region). Perhaps surprisingly, the play in question is a comedy that is sometimes considered a lesser work by the Bard: The Merry Wives of Windsor.

A Resplendent Régine Crespin in Tosca

There have to be special reasons to release a monophonic live recording of a much-recorded opera. Often it can give us the opportunity to hear a singer in a major role that he or she never recorded commercially—or did record on some later occasion, when the voice was no longer fresh. Often a live recording catches the dramatic flow better than certain studio recordings that may be more perfect technically.

Karine Deshayes’s Astonishing New Rossini Recording

Critic and scholar John Barker has several times complained, in the pages of American Record Guide, about Baroque vocal recitals that add instrumental works or movements as supposed relief or (as he nicely calls them) “spacers.”

Knappertsbusch’s Only Recording of Lohengrin Released for the First Time

Hans Knappertsbusch was one of the most renowned Wagner conductors who ever lived. His recordings of Parsifal, especially, are near-legendary among confirmed Wagnerians.

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered, from SOMM Recordings, makes available on CD archive broadcasts of British and German song. All come from BBC broadcasts made between 1947 and 1952. Of the 26 tracks in this collection, 19 are "new", not having been commercially released. The remaining seven have been remastered by sound restoration engineer Ted Kendall. Something here even for those who already own the complete recordings.

Color and Drama in Two Choral Requiems from Post-Napoleonic France

The Requiem text has brought out the best in many composers. Requiem settings by Mozart, Verdi, and Fauré are among the most beloved works among singers and listeners alike, and there are equally wondrous settings by Berlioz and Duruflé, as well as composers from before 1750, notably Jean Gilles.

Matthias Goerne - late Schumann songs, revealed

Matthias Goerne Schumann Lieder, with Markus Hinterhäuser, a new recording from Harmonia Mundi. Singers, especially baritones, often come into their prime as they approach 50, and Goerne, who has been a star since his 20's is now formidably impressive. The colours in his voice have matured, with even greater richness and depth than before.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

MONTSALVATGE: Integral de canto
15 Sep 2005

MONTSALVATGE: Integral de canto

It is unfortunate that audiences tend to pigeonhole Xavier Montsalvatge (1912-2002) as a one-work composer. There is no doubt, however, that the popularity of his Canciones negras has overshadowed the rest of his output.

Xavier Montsalvatge: Integral de canto (vol. I) and Integral de canto (vol. II)

Marisa Martins, mezzosoprano; Mac MacClure, piano (Vol. I); Rosa Mateu, soprano; Àngels Cívit, mezzosoprano; Antonio Comas, tenor; Mac MacClure, piano (Vol. II)

Columna Música 1CM0080 [CD] (Vol. I); Columna Música 1CM0079 [CD] (Vol. II).

 

Aware of this situation, shortly before his death and with a light dose of acrimony, he declared in an interview:

The weight of these compositions has followed me all my life, and I have not yet solved it. I don’t want to boast, but the songs are popular from Nepal to South Africa, which has the inconvenience that they overshadow the rest of my works.

[Carlos del Amo, “Xavier Montsalvatge,” EFE News Services (December 2, 1999).]

And indeed, they do. Recorded, completely, by Victoria de los Angeles, Montserrat Caballé, Marilyn Horne, Teresa Berganza and, partially, by Bartoli and Gheorghiu, these songs are among the most popular of the twentieth-century repertoire and—given its irresistible melodic charm—a favorite encore of all singers. Needless to say, all this results in a general lack of familiarity with his other, equally appealing, compositions. The fact is that Montsalvatge’s music has been premiered by internationally renown performers such as Nicanor Zabaleta, Alicia de Larrocha, Rostropovich, Rampal, Szeryng and many others. In addition, it has also been performed at the BBC Proms and at Lincoln Center (by the New York Philharmonic). Besides Columna, several international labels, including ASV and Marco Polo, have issued many recordings entirely dedicated to his music as well. Therefore, Montsalvatge’s so-called “problem” is not that he is unknown or that his works are poorly disseminated, but rather that his music is unevenly circulated and appreciated. To be sure, these two CDs will palliate this problem.

In recent times, Columna Música, the small, independent Barcelona label, has issued an incredible amount of Spanish music, including an on-going series dedicated to the issuance of the complete works of Montsalvatge. This latest installment includes the composer’s whole production for voice and piano. Volume I includes the composer’s songs cycles Canciones para niños, Canciones negras, and Quatre rimes breus de Josep Carner. Volume II focuses on single, self-standing songs as well as opera arias arranged for voice and piano. For the first time, therefore, listeners can appreciate the full spectrum of Montsalvatge’s vocal output and not only one of its segments. The songs, as a matter of fact, cover chronologically all his career as a composer since the first song dates from 1933 and the last was written in 2001.

Montsalvatge’s musical language overtly departs from the Germanic tradition prevalent in earlier Catalan composers (Pedrell and Gerhard among others). Instead, it shows a penchant for the irony, playfulness, and popular appeal of Les Six, as well as the rhythmic experimentation and formal clarity of Stravinsky. Although his language evolved and passed through different phases (including a serialist one), he is best known for his so-called “West Indian” style (early critics called it antillanismo), which was inspired by the sounds of the Spanish Caribbean. This period includes compositions such as Tres divertimenti (1941), Cuarteto indiano (1952), and of course the popular Cinco canciones negras (1945, orchestrated in 1949). On these two CDs the antillanismo is only audible in the celebrated Canciones negras. The rest of the songs, generally speaking, use relatively simple, appealing melodic lines accompanied by astringent, modern harmonies. A predilection for the world of children is also prevalent in most of his works (as is the case in Frederic Mompou’s oeuvre, another eminent Catalan composer), but especially in his Canciones para niños (with texts by García Lorca), also included here.
Some of the performers on these CDs seem to own, in the best sense of the word, Xavier Montsalvatge’s music. American-born, Barcelona educated pianist Mac MacClure was a friend of the composer and he worked closely with him in many projects, including the recording of his complete works. His accompaniment is subtle, expressive, and clean, as well as sensitive to the singers’ quirks. Soprano Rosa Mateu was the composer’s protégé and had the privilege of premiering many of his late vocal compositions. She brings to these recordings an intimate knowledge of the music and its world, as well as her remarkable vocal qualities. Marisa Martins is one of the rising stars in Barcelona’s vocal scene. Born in Argentina and educated in Barcelona, she has already sang opera at the venerable Gran Teatre del Liceu in her adoptive city. These recordings show her great talent for the song repertoire, too, and she brings to them an exact diction and a deep understanding of the text. All things considered, one only wishes that the popularity of the greatly admired versions of Cinco canciones negras by Victoria de los Ángeles et al. do not overshadow these performances the way the compositions themselves “followed” and became a “weight” for the composer. God forbid.

Antoni Pizà, Director
Foundation for Iberian Music, CUNY Graduate Center

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):